Thursday, 10 December 2015

Angels. Bringers of peace for troubled hearts. Beckoning to adventure.

The appearance of an angel does not normally inspire peace in the heart of those who encounter him. To the contrary, an angel causes fear and confusion. His appearance is, after all, outside the normal sphere of human activity.

Zechariah was one such. In the dark and gloom of the Holy of Holies, the Innermost Presence of the Mighty One, something so strange and supernatural occurred that he was gripped by.fear.  Unable to move, he cowered in front of a mighty being, glowing with unaccustomed light. Did he wonder if it was God himself appearing? for no one can see His face and live.

The Messenger brought peace. "Don't be afraid, Zechariah." Fear could go, for God knew Zechariah by name. The message was for him and no other.
The Messenger brought hope: peace in the future. For Zechariah could have peace with God, now knowing, after so many years and tears, that God had heard his cries.
God listened.
God AGREED with Zechariah.
God promised.
Zechariah no longer had to be afraid.

Nor did Mary. What was she doing when Gabriel appeared to her? Walking home from the market; baking bread; perhaps sweeping the house, squinting to get the dirt out of dark corners when light came in and shattered her peace. "“Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you..." "

So Mary said, "Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say."
And peace entered her heart.

Joseph, too. (Oh, so many angels, so very busy with the Good News of the Saviour.) A good and kind man, compassionate for an unfortunate girl, wanting to just send her away quietly without the disgrace and punishment her unwed pregnancy deserved. BUT GOD sent an angel in a dream. This angel, too, brought the promise of peace: Joseph should not be afraid to marry Mary for she was pure and godly.  Surely Joseph clung to this message, facing condemnation and ridicule for marrying the girl pregnant with a child not his own. For who would believe in an angelic visitation on the word of a girl?

So many angels. So much fear. So much promised peace.

And when we have peace, we have hope. Hope to sustain us on the adventure of life. Tom Herring, Jonny's good friend, writes:
"The toil of a difficult journey is certainly eased when shared with good friends.
What makes an adventure?  A key element that makes adventures fun, is the fact that they have an end. The sense of achievement we feel that we managed to survive, that we had what it took to see it to the end, is what makes good memories. There are probably not many people who would enjoy spending the rest of their life fighting for survival in a remote jungle. The best part of getting lost, is when you find your way home.
The great adventure  I believe that for all of us, life is supposed to be an epic adventure – one full of fun and discovery. My wife likes to say that ‘we were born for a life full of risk and full of play’. We made this a foundation of our relationship, and now aim to build our family on it. It guides our decisions, as we choose to embrace risk and savour the unknown.
But sometimes life doesn’t seem like a good adventure. It can become a frightening, unenjoyable journey. All of us can feel overwhelmed by challenges and difficulties, or confused about what to do in certain situations, perhaps with no one to turn to for help. Sometimes life can simply be boring.
I think that one of the main reasons life becomes this way, is when we no longer expect good things to happen.
How to Illuminate the darkness  To live an adventure, for the sense of fun and delight in the journey to remain, we need hope. Expecting good things is like turning on a torch that illuminates the path before us, no matter how dark or difficult it becomes. It enables us to stand up and continue our journey, and remember that we’re headed somewhere great.
How to get hope   Despite what many think, hope isn’t based on circumstances. It isn’t a personality trait, like being optimistic. It is an underlying certainty that what lies around the corner, is good – even when there’s nothing promising on the horizon.
This may sound like wishful thinking or foolishness. How can I expect something great in my life if there is no rational reason for it to happen?
Expecting positive things to happen terrifies most of us to the core, because it sets us up to fail. I’ll only be disappointed, We think. The truth is though, is that little good can happen in our lives without the presence of hope. It creates an enabling environment inside of us, where new things can grow. Instead of being crushed by our circumstances and remaining stagnant, it enables us to push on, and overcome, like in every good adventure.
‘But I’ve had a hard life, nothing good ever happens to me’, some people say. If that’s you, learning to believe that good things are on the way is even more necessary. To move on and start enjoying the journey, hope is essential – no matter how terrifying it may be. Otherwise the cycle of lack and struggle is likely only to continue.
If you want life to be an adventure rather than drudgery, dare to believe good things are on their way for you. By nurturing that kind of belief, you will find yourself going about life in a very different way. You will keep fighting and taking risks, pushing through adversity, getting stronger, becoming wiser, and most of all, each day you will become younger and more filled with life."
And we think of the angel stories and we accept the peace they offer but we fail to engage with the incredible adventure of faith laid out before us: Zechariah facing ridicule, Mary facing scorn and even death, Joseph facing...scorn and ridicule... This is peace, when we step out on the adventure which God sets before us even in the face of scorn and ridicule.  For when we are not afraid, we have peace...

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